Is an iPad Enough?

Is an iPad Enough? February 19, 2013

This blogger has been using an iPad alone for his computer.

Have you tried the iPad alone? What do you think?

Well, I made it to Friday – an entire week of using my new iPad as my sole computing device.   I set out at the beginning of the week to see if it was feasible to use an iPad as your main computing device at home and at work.   Don’t forget to check out my day 1 and day 2 articles and check out my conclusion at the end of the week in the paragraphs below….

After my full week of using the iPad as my sole computing device, I have to say I am impressed at what the iPad is able to do when pushed to the limit.  I will be using the iPad as my main computing device going forward.

Notice, I did not say the iPad would continue to be my sole computing device.  I do plan on using the desktop computers available at my work and home to do the heavier computing jobs and multiple document editing work that can frustrate on the iPad.  However, during the week I found out that I can easily do about 90% of my work enjoyably and sometimes even more conveniently on my iPad.

I love being able to carry around my main device like a book all day.  Typically, during the day as I teach and move around the building at work, I don’t have any need for a full keyboard.  Before and after work, when I need to do serious typing, I seamlessly connect my Bluetooth keyboard and type away.

Granted, your experience will vary depending on the type or work you do and your own computing needs.  However, I am convinced that many people could successfully use the iPad as a main device.

At this point, the iPad still isn’t a machine that can be used for 100% of all computing work,  and I wouldn’t recommend selling off your desktop or laptop computer.  I am convinced, though, that it is possible to leave the bigger, battery sucking devices behind, and still be productive on the iPad.

This being the case, I don’t really see a need for most people to buy the 128GB iPad.  If you still need another computer around for doing the heavy lifting, you may as well use that computer to store all of your photos, videos, and other collections of files.  Buying a smaller capacity iPad and carrying around your important day to day files is a much cheaper option that most people will be able to get by with – even if most of their computing us done on the iPad.

Verdict:  The iPad can be an effective main computer, but don’t toss away your other device just yet.   

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  • RJS


    I like my iPad, but it is not enough.

  • Absolutely not. Macbook air, yes, ipad no.

  • PJ Anderson

    I use my iPad for about 95% of my stuff on any given week. Usually I can make it through most days with just the iPad. Yet when it comes to higher level functions (writing research, researching articles, design, and other functions) I have to use my MacBook Air. The iPad is limited. For instance in posting this reply I’ve had to keep touching the textbook to reidentifying the text field. (That has more to do with the lack of HTML5 on this website though.)

    Almost all day long I use my iPad or iPhone. Its great. Its compact and works…mostly. I hope for the day that it gets to this completely. As an aside I do hope on my MacBook via remote link to do some stuff. Good post.

  • I love my iPad and can use it for nearly everything I do as a professor. However, our seminary uses Moodle, which does not play nicely with Safari for iOS. Essentially, I can see what’s there and participate in discussions, but cannot add resources and assignments, for example. If Moodle worked well, I could leave my MacBook at home.

  • Jason R.

    I realize this an all apple discussion, but I have a feeling Microsoft’s “Surface Pro” is a more likely candidate for a tablet that could be a desktop and laptop replacement at this time. Simply due to the fact that it runs the full version of Windows 8 rather than the “RT” version. Apple should do the same with the ipad and put out a version that can handle the full version of Cougar-lion-snow-leopard or whatever their current full operating system is called. If that happened and they put out a great portable keyboard to go with it (like Microsoft seems to have done for the surface based on the reviews I’ve seen) then I think the Ipad will be all many if not most users need.

  • jon

    @Steven #4, have you tried accessing moodle by using the Chrome browser on your iOS device? It sometimes works better with edge cases than Safari does.

  • jon

    @Jason #5 a surface pro would be fine if you could have it unplugged all day. The four hour battery is not enough for most people, and certainly not reliable enough to trust an entire day traveling with.

    Real Operating systems require real chips which require real electricity.

    Personally, I could use my iPad for everything, and do use it when I travel. There are many things for which I prefer an entire desktop experience, though.

  • For a 3 or 4 day trip, or sometimes a 10-day overseas trip where security and packing light is an issue–love going just with iPad. (And you really appreciate the laptop when you get home.)

  • I have been in this same experiment more gradually for several weeks. Two main problems I have encountered. First, highlighting texts in Kindle or in other sources On the IPad I can find no way to copy n paste to another document. And to get your highlighted notes all in one place you have to sign on to Amazon Kindle but still cannot cut n paste, let only easily and properly cite. Second, the intersection of IPad (Apple) and PC (Microsoft) is still largely unfriendly. As one tech support told me it is still a demilitarized zone and neither Apple or MS are making any moves to bridge the gap. Frustrating. A third problem is just learning to understand how the cloud works in storage n retrieval.

    But I am a tech-challenged person so if I can make this transition anyone can. Just takes some of us longer.

  • David Saleeba

    Thanks! I’ve been wondering about this as my computer uses in ministry would rarely go beyond basic word docs, email, and web browsing. One possible thing- is the Logos app for iPad the same as the iPhone? If so, it is sorely lagging behind the actual program.

  • Jason R

    @ Jon #7, Yes 4 hour battery life isn’t what it should be for the surface pro but not many full blown laptops get much better. We’re talking about laptop/desktop replacement so I doubt anyone can use their laptop for an entire day without having to plug it in once or twice. My arguement wasn’t that you could make it through the day on a single charge to replace your desktop but that you need a robust operating system to actually do it. So an Ipad using a full operating system would need to be plugged in about as often as a current laptop, they would be on pretty much equal footing. Currently Apple says the 11 inch macbook air gets 5 hours battery life using a wireless signal. I bet they could get the same life into an Ipad running the same operating system with a current generation Intel processor if they tried. I think the phone operating systems are great for phones, but eventually people are going to expect more from a larger tablet than what they already get on their iphone.

  • I too use the iPad for a lot of things but can’t do without a desktop (like you). So yes, if you have a desktop for your main workspace, then iPad is enough. But if you don’t have a desktop, you need the laptop

  • Dan Reid

    On the iPad what do you people use to edit Word documents? I’m new to the iPad and have found it very convenient as an escape from my desk computer for reading manuscripts in Word or PDF using Dropbox. The next stage is a keyboard, but I’m curious about the preferred options for simple text composition and editing.

  • Banner

    I use the ipad for the majority of my computer work. One thing that has helped is a Bluetooth keyboard for typing.

  • Mark Farmer

    Dan @13 – Apple’s Pages app translates documents into Word for exporting. It reads them as well.

  • @jon #4: hadn’t until your comment. Chrome is a better experience. Thanks!

  • RJS


    Does Pages work? It has rather mixed reviews so I’ve been holding off on the purchase. Editing and reading documents is one of the major drawbacks of the iPad though.

    Even with this though it wouldn’t be enough as I often need excel, ppt, and other more significant applications as well.

  • I’ve transitioned to a Thinkpad Tablet 2 as my computer. Like the Surface Pro it’s running windows 8 Pro, but it uses an updated Atom cpu so gets 10 hours of battery life without much degradation in performance. It also has a digitized pen with excellent handwriting recognition for taking notes (and I even used the pen last week to write my sermon). In addition, one can add an Sd card (I put in a 32g to add to the 64g hard drive) and use it for docs, photos, videos, etc. I use a dock at the office ad the BT Keyboard made for it. It’s great.

  • Ben

    Any bloggers here?

    I’m trying to think of a way of typing a blog post offline and cut and paste. Are there any good processors out there? I’ve used pages (which I like because with the cloud I can use my iPad and then move over to my Mac) but I think that the styles mess up format.